One day after a 41-10 win on Monday Night Football, the Indianapolis Colts found that their inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson will be suspended for four games.
Jackson, 32, violated the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy. Subsequently, he is now suspended for the final four games of the regular season.
Jackson currently leads the team with 78 combined tackles. He also has one sack and two fumble recoveries. He is one of the core leaders of the Indianapolis defense.
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This suspension could not have come at a worse time for the Colts. With the win Monday, they created a three-way tie on top of the AFC South. They now share a 6-6 record with the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans.
Jackson’s experience and presence on the field have always been important for the Colts. Now, they need to find someone new to fill the void.
Without Jackson, Indianapolis is relatively thin at inside linebacker. Second-year pro Edwin Jackson was recently inserted into the starting lineup alongside D’Qwell Jackson. He has played well. However, his lack of experience is still a concern.
Meanwhile, Josh McNary was the guy Edwin Jackson replaced in the starting lineup. McNary has been inconsistent and has struggled in late-game situations in particular. Rookie Antonio Morrison is the only other inside linebacker on the roster.
The Indianapolis Colts‘ defense was not very good to begin with; although it did play well against a poor New York Jets team. Jackson’s absence in the lineup will decrease the quality of the defense even more.
Head coach Chuck Pagano also stresses the “next man up” mantra whenever his team loses a key player. With Jackson suspended for the final four games of the season, that ideology will be put to the test.
In five days, the Colts face the Texans in a battle to remain atop the AFC South division and to remain in control of their postseason destiny.